Microsoft Exchange 2010 offers a built-in archiving solution which is worth consideration if you are looking at implementing an email archiving solution. There is no extra cost for the feature if you are already running Exchange 2010 in your environment, which is big advantage compared to other 3rd Party email archiving products.
On closer inspection though this feature only really allows a way of removing reliance on any legacy Outlook PST files that your may have on your file system. Exchange 2010 allows you to configure additional Mail Databases for Archiving, along side the existing Mail Databases for Mailboxes. Users can then be provisioned with a secondary “Archive” mailbox, which they can see alongside their server mailbox within their Outlook 2010 client. Quotas can then be enforced, and users encouraged to setup auto archiving into their “Archive mailbox”.
You gain few of the advantages of some of the 3rd Party email archiving solutions, some of which are:
- Central archive database containing all archive emails – with single instance storage
- Powerful search facility across all email archive data
- Central administration of email archive features and configuration
Exchange 2010 also offers additional features such as Journaling which will allow for all your emails to be copied to a central Journal Mailbox, meeting your compliance needs. However, this is a very basic solution, which would soon encounter mail database size constraints, and is lacking in other areas such as auditing and reporting.
My opinion is that Exchange 2010 Archiving may be useful in limited form if you have an issue with widespread PST files, as you can collect up all the PSTs, import them into the Exchange 2010 Archive mailboxes for the respective users, then prevent PST use within Outlook 2010 via Group Policy. You can also use cheaper storage for the Exchange 2010 Archive Mail Databases. Finally, you could implement Quotas and instruct users how to leverage their secondary Archive Mailbox via Outlook 2010.
Exchange 2010 also offers Message Record Management (MRM) and also litigation settings on mailboxes. All these require separate configuration and as a whole will result in a complex setup to manage as an ongoing concern.
If you need a fully featured email archiving solution, that also meets the the compliance (and audit) requirements then I advise looking at the 3rd Party email archiving products that are available. These come at a cost, but you get what you pay for, which is why the Exchange 2010 archiving features are free.
If you are still thinking of using Exchange 2010 Email Archiving in your enterprise, then I advise you ask your Microsoft Account Manager to provide references of enterprise customers who have implemented it.
Smaller businesses can utilize a third party such as the Dell Microsoft Exchange service if they do not have their own servers or IT team.